Are rabbits invading your garden and eating your plants? Rabbits love fruits, leaves, sprouts, and ornamental vegetation. Unfortunately, all of these are abundantly present in a garden. You must know how to prevent rabbits from eating plants before they cause serious damage to your yard.
Take note that you should only use humane methods in keeping the bunny away. While they are pesky plant eaters, they still play a crucial role in our ecosystem.
Below, we discuss some methods that you can try to stop the eating spree of rabbits around your garden.
Why are rabbits attracted to my garden?
Rabbits don’t raid your yard for no reason. Some elements attract them to your garden, including the following:
1. You’re growing fruits and veggies.
Rabbits love vegetation, especially edible ones. This is the reason why bunnies might be flocking into your vegetable and fruit patch.
Moreover, rabbits eat all sorts of vegetables like carrots, lettuce, cabbage, bell peppers, cucumber, and more. These mammals also like berry bushes, ornamental plants, and shrubs.
During winter, rabbits eat a lot of bark. So if you have trees around your garden, this could also be an attractant for them.
2. Your garden is easy to access.
Another reason why rabbits like going to your garden are the easy access. Take note that rabbits can easily squeeze themselves under fences.
Also, rabbits prefer places that they can access but their predators can’t. For example, rabbits can go under your fence, but not wolves and coyotes. This gives the bunnies a sense of safety, especially if your place is notorious for such predators.
3. Your porch is a good nesting site.
From March to August, rabbits go into breeding season. This means that they will seek safe nesting sites, just like underneath your porch.
And if your garden also has ample food supply, it’s not surprising that rabbits will choose your property to be their babies’ home.
Also, rabbits dig holes into the ground to serve as their home. An undisturbed and low foot-traffic area in your garden makes an attractive choice.
4. Your garden is weedy and has tall grasses.
Rabbits are attracted to tall grasses and weedy areas, which can be the case with some gardens. They love to graze and the tall grasses also keep them out of predators’ sight.
In the wild, rabbits prefer areas with thick foliage to camouflage. If your garden has it, you’re technically sending an invitation for rabbits to come by.
5. You keep feeding them.
Sure, rabbits are cute, but feeding them will do your vegetable patch a big disservice. Soon enough, the bunnies will target your plants and feed on them.
And since you fed them for too long, the rabbits have somehow lost their fear of humans. They might be harder to scare using the tactics above.
How to prevent rabbits from eating plants
Having rabbits eating your plants in the garden can be frustrating, but there are many workarounds you can try. Here are some of the humane solutions that are proven to yield results:
1. Strengthen your fences
The first thing you have to do is to block the rabbit’s entry point to your property. Overall, rabbits can be deterred by a fence at least 3 feet high, so it will be wise to make your fence slightly taller than this. Aside from that, a higher fence will prevent other stray animals from wandering into your property.
As much as possible, choose metal fencing as rabbits can chew on fiberglass, wood, and plastic. Chain link fences are the cheapest yet most effective option here. Make sure that you have it painted or coated to prevent rusting.
When installing a chain-link fence, leave at least 4 to 6 inches of length at the bottom. Bend this length at a 90-degree angle and bury it at least 6 inches underground. This will make it impossible for wild rabbits to squeeze their way into your garden.
If you have metal gates, place a flashing underneath, so there wouldn’t be gaps rabbits can use as an entryway.
2. Put up barriers around vegetables and flowers
Next, it’s important to protect your vegetables and ornamental plants. Targeted coverage is the most effective, which means you’ll cover the vegetation rabbits like.
You can create a wooden frame and then wrap wire mesh around it. Make sure that the bottom of the wire mesh is staked into the ground.
Overall, a ¾” mesh fencing is the most effective. But if you don’t want to go through the hassle of DIY fencing, you can purchase greenhouse hoops and then just install the mesh on them.
Remember that you should never use nylon mesh for the cover. Rabbits can easily gnaw this material and access your plants. Metal is always the foolproof solution.
3. Place a wire fence around your tree trunks
Aside from securing your veggies and flowering plants, you should also secure your trees. As mentioned earlier, rabbits also consume tree bark.
As with the previous step, you can make a mesh wire fence around your tree trunk. Make sure that it’s a few inches away from the trunk and about 2 to 3 feet tall.
4. Use scare devices
Another way to prevent rabbits from pestering your plants is by using scare devices. However, you should know that the efficacy of this method depends on how eager and desensitized the rabbits in your area are.
You can make DIY scare devices using flashy CDs or sparkly streamers. The light reflecting from these items can confuse rabbits and potentially drive them away. Also, these shiny things are more effective if they are hanging and fluttering in the air.
Aside from that, you can use air horn sounds, though this might be an issue for your next-door neighbor.
Moreover, you can install motion-activated water sprinklers in your yard. This will trigger once the sensor detects motion. However, make sure that you install it away from foot traffic to prevent unnecessary detections.
To make your scare tactics more effective at night, you can use motion-activated sensor lights. The sudden flashes of light will surely send a rabbit running.
Overall, make sure that you switch up the scare devices, so the rabbits won’t get used to it.
5. Remove tall grasses and shrubs
It’s also important to remove anything that could give rabbits cover. This means removing tall grasses and trimming bushes. You should also trim your vines and shrubs where rabbits may hide.
Since there is no vegetation to keep them hidden, rabbits will feel unsafe eating in your yard. Still, you should pair this with other methods discussed here to ensure that the rabbits won’t go back to your property.
6. Spray coyote urine or blood meal
Rabbits avoid places with the scent of their predators. You can use this fact to your advantage to keep the bunnies off your plants.
There’s artificial coyote urine you can purchase, which is an artificial formulation mimicking the scent of the rabbit’s predator. Spray this near your plants and along your fences to scare off rabbits.
7. Use a homemade repellent
If you don’t want to spend money on commercial solutions, you can make a homemade rabbit deterrent. There are many rabbit repellent recipes you can try like the following:
- Pepper repellent. For this, you need to mix crushed red peppers, cloves, water, and dish soap. Place the mixture in a jug then leave it under the sun for two days until the water has evaporated and the solution is concentrated. Spray this on areas where rabbits may go.
- Tabasco repellent. You can mix tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, water, and dishwashing soap. Spray it around your yard, but avoid applying it directly to plants.
- Linseed oil repellent. Simply mix dish detergent, linseed oil, and water. Make sure that you use a larger part of linseed oil than the water and detergent.
Whichever of these solutions you use, make sure that you re-apply it after a rainfall. The rain will wash out the repellent, which will make it ineffective in deterring rabbits from your plants.
8. Grow plants rabbits hate
Aside from placing barriers and repellents, you can also grow plants that rabbits hate. Some of the best options are lavender, peony, sage, snapdragons, and lobelia. Herbs like rosemary, chives, and oregano are also effective in discouraging rabbits from getting into your garden.
The good thing is that these plants will add beauty to your garden. You can also use herbs for cooking meals.
Overall, any plant with a strong scent will likely repel a rabbit. It’s because bunnies have a strong sense of smell and they can get overwhelmed by odors easily.
Still, you should only consider this as a complementary solution to the problem. Aside from planting the mentioned plants, you should still focus on physical barriers as that one works the most.
9. Let your cat or dog watch the yard
It will also help to leave your pet dog or cat roaming in your yard for a few hours a day. Domesticated cats and dogs would have fun chasing over trespassing bunnies in your garden. Also, the smell and mere presence of your pets might be enough to deter rabbits from entering your yard.
Nevertheless, you should never leave your pets unattended in the yard for too long. Also, you should only let them roam when it’s not too hot as both dogs and cats can suffer from heatstroke.
Lastly, you should consider putting a GPS tracker or virtual fence on your yard. This is in case your cat or dog tries to climb over the fence.
10. Divert the rabbits
If your area has a large rabbit population, diverting the bunnies might be the best trick. You can do this by planting weeds, tall grasses, and other rabbit-favorite plants away from your property.
While this will not stop a rabbit from going after your veggies, the weed patch will be their first stop for feeding. This will also help divert their feeding habits away from your garden. You can also dedicate a specific part of your garden for rabbit feeding while covering your other plants.
Take note that rabbits are easily contented with food that is easily accessible. As long as they have food nearby, they won’t be persistent to go after your prized vegetables and fruit-bearing plants.
Remember that modifying your yard alone isn’t enough to deter rabbits. While it may confuse the bunnies for a while, they can easily find a new spot on your property once you’re done mixing things up. Diversion is the key.
Be careful when encouraging rabbit predators!
When dealing with stray animals, one of the common ideas is to attract predators. This way, the pest will be scared and go away. However, you have to be careful when doing this with rabbits.
First of all, rabbit predators are dangerous animals. We’re talking about wolves, coyotes, hawks, falcons, eagles, wild dogs, and more. While they may repel or catch rabbits, they can also bring more harm to your property.
For example, hawks can snatch baby deer and small goats when they are very hungry. If you’re caring for these animals in your yard, you have to avoid attracting birds of prey.
Aside from that, coyotes are a menace to small cats and dogs. This feral animal may bite your pet if it wanders off your property. Also, coyotes are carriers of rabies, which is both dangerous to other animals and humans.
As much as possible, consider the methods above instead of attracting more animals to your yard.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What smell do rabbits hate?
A: Rabbits hate a lot of various odors. Some of them are chives, vinegar, chili, sulfur, and even the fragrant lavender. They also find the scent of wax begonias and geraniums repulsive. So if the bunnies are hijacking your garden, you can utilize these scents to keep them away. Overall, it’s a humane method that won’t hurt the rabbits and will also make your flower patch more beautiful.
Q: Is it good to have rabbits in your yard?
A: Rabbits are natural composters, however, they may also eat up your plants if you let them roam freely. Overall, it depends on how you’ll keep the rabbits and what your goal is in raising them.
Q: Do rabbits spread weeds?
A: Rabbits tend to spread the seeds of weeds they didn’t consume. They can spread it on a wide scale, especially if you let them roam your garden. This can be a big problem in your yard if you’re trying to get rid of invasive weeds on your plants.
Q: Do rabbits dig holes in gardens?
A: Rabbits can dig holes in your garden, especially if they are about to give birth. They do this to protect their babies from predators. If you discover rabbit holes in your garden, you shouldn’t cover them with soil right away as there might be bunnies underneath. It’s best to check first, so you can have the babies relocated with the help of an animal control service.
Q: Is it okay to feed wild rabbits?
A: If you want to feed wild rabbits, you should just leave them a bowl of food. Hand-feeding is never a good idea with wild animals since it makes them lose their fear of humans. When that happens, the rabbits may become dependent on you for food. Also, they may try to live on your property and even hop inside your house.
Q: Can rabbits climb on a chicken wire?
A: Some rabbits can climb through chicken wires, but they don’t have much endurance for tall ones. Also, rabbits are more likely to dig under the wire fence than climb on it. This is a nod to their burrowing nature.
Knowing how to prevent rabbits from eating plants will save you from the frustration. Just remember that you should only use humane methods to keep the bunnies away. As much as they can be pesky at times, these creatures are existing for a reason.
You can also consult an animal control service if your efforts aren’t working. They can advise you on how to deal with the bunny problem properly.